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An important has just been published in the United States report government that in the last twenty years the domestic production of firearms has almost tripled, with a new peak in the last three years, mainly due to the increasing purchase of pistols for personal use. The report was put together by the government agency Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and introduced further elements into the debate on restrictions on the sale of firearms in the country, at a time when there there have just been two massacres in less than ten days: in Buffalo, in the state of New York, and in Uvalde, in Texas.
The report is over three hundred pages long and was commissioned in April 2021 by US President Joe Biden and US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland: according to the New York Times contains a “vivid statistical portrait of a nation armed to the teeth”. It collects data on the manufacture, export and import of firearms in the United States over the past two decades, which have recorded increases of 187, 240 and 350 percent, respectively. These are very high numbers and still increasing.
While about 3.9 million weapons a year were produced in the United States in 2000, in 2020 the figure rose to 11.3 million. According to a report of the independent research center Small Arms Surveythere are about 400 million weapons in circulation in the United States, even if the estimate is firm to 2018.
Among the most relevant data of the report is the huge increase in the purchase of pistols for personal defense: starting from 2009 their sale has surpassed that of rifles, normally used for hunting, with the result that ten years the pistols have been become the most manufactured and imported type of weapon in the United States. The production of short-barreled shotguns, small and easily transportable like pistols, has also increased dramatically.
The report also contains some data on the so-called “ghost guns”, that is, those privately manufactured, not traceable like the others: from 2016 to 2021 their production – although still negligible – has increased tenfold, and according to the police it has further contributed to the increase in gun killings in various states.
According to the report, the increase in arms production appears to have been encouraged mainly by the expiration, in 2004, of theAssault Weapons Ban, a rule introduced in 1994 to prohibit the production and possession of some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use and never renewed. Payton Gendron, the prime suspect in last week’s Buffalo, New York supermarket massacre, used a semi-automatic shotgun.
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The report identifies three time peaks in firearms purchases over the past 20 years: one in 2013, following the re-election of then-President Barack Obama and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut; one in 2016, during the presidential campaign later won by Donald Trump; and one between 2019 and 2020, the period of the coronavirus pandemic and the presidential election campaign then won by Joe Biden.
The report, writes the New York Times, contains data in part already known, but it is important because in many of these cases it was data that the industries producing arms were reluctant to disseminate and that some rules approved in the past by the Republican Party, very close to the arms lobby, allowed them to keep hidden.
– Read also: In the United States we are talking about weapons again